If, as the old maxim goes, the deepest rivers flow with the least sound, College Registrar and Associate Director of Institutional Research Christine Alexander would be considered one of Franklin & Marshall College's most profound channels.
A Lancaster County native, the quiet, reserved Alexander came to the College with a high school diploma to work in the Office of Admission as a data entry clerk. She brought with her a strong character, a determination to expand her education, and a work ethic that has allowed her to accomplish monumental tasks and long-sought dreams.
For her efforts to improve herself and the institution, Alexander has been honored with F&M's heralded Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award. The annual award, named for former F&M President Richard Kneedler, recognizes a committed member of the F&M professional staff who consistently goes above and beyond what would normally be considered good performance and has earned the respect of students and colleagues.
"F&M has opened a whole world for me," said a humbled Alexander. "I would do anything for this place."
Alexander, the first in her family to attend college, launched her academic career immediately after starting at F&M, earning a B.A. in English from Lebanon Valley College and an M.A. in English from Millersville University. And she did it all while working full time.
"At F&M, the education and the opportunities opened up," Alexander said. "Looking back, if I thought I would be in this position, I would have laughed. It was so remote from my mind."
Longtime friend and colleague Tammy Moyer, office administrator for the College's Facilities and Operations Department, encouraged Alexander to apply for a job at F&M.
"It's been amazing" watching Alexander grow, Moyer said. "I think she's come very far."
Always poised, professional and pleasant, Alexander is lauded for her many contributions to the College, particularly in the seven years she has served as registrar.
"She is an extraordinary member of the F&M community -- enormously respected and appreciated by students, faculty, and professional staff alike," Professor of History Maria Mitchell said. "It may be that her expertise often goes unrecognized because she is so effective. That we risk taking her many accomplishments for granted testifies to her modesty, but also to her skillful leadership."
As registrar, Alexander has the pulse of the community, supporting numerous campus constituencies. She oversees a central element of every student's experience, and her improvements of the course registration process have positively enhanced that experience, Mitchell, former chair of Faculty Council, said.
The registrar also is central to faculty lives. Student registrations dictate the patterns of enrollment and advisers' experiences with their advisees. Faculty, as well as Trustees and professional staff, also rely on Alexander's institutional research. Academic departments, for example, cannot conduct external reviews without data gathering by Alexander's office. Even student prizes and honors societies could not be constituted or awarded without the expert data the registrar's office provides departments and programs.
Modest and soft-spoken, Alexander said her focus is always on the College. "I like to keep a low profile, but I like being in a place where I can make a real impact," she said.
Alexander finds she can accomplish that as registrar.
"In my role I can see both sides of the equation. I see how the academic program operates, how the faculty work, and what they need to do their work," she said. "Then I see the student experience and how they progress through the curriculum and how they get into classes and the decisions they have to make. That's a really cool place to be, to able to see over both of those fences and find ways to make those things work better together."
Faculty and administrators praised her efforts on Project Boost, when for nearly two years, in addition to running the registrar's office, she helped lead the modernization of computer software systems that manage student and academic information, human resources and finances. It was a task that was fraught with obstacles.
"Chris worked tirelessly on every module for Project Boost," Mitchell said. "She was unfailingly professional, sympathetic, and supportive, even in the face of considerable upset. It's a testament to her extraordinary interpersonal and communicative skills and also to the quality of her character."
Alexander said F&M is far more than a place of employment. It is her community and life. "I like the rhythm of the academic year," she said. "I love all the activity, and of course, the relationships that I've built."
Two yeas ago, Alexander bought a house two blocks from the College.
"I walk to work. I love it. That's my favorite thing about the house. Then I walk around the campus for exercise. It's really the hub of my life," she said. "I can't imagine working anywhere else. I think this is my final destination. The College takes care of its employees."